Sheldon Grizzle to Step Down as Chattanooga FC President at the End of Season; Club Launches Nationwide Search for New Executive
Sheldon Grizzle announced today his decision to step down as president of Chattanooga Football Club at the end of this year as the club transitions to a professional league. He will continue to work with the club as a director on the board as well as on the boards of CFC Academy and CFC Foundation.
“As Chattanooga Football Club begins its second decade, we are fulfilling another of our commitments to the community and that is to bring locally-owned professional soccer to Chattanooga,” Grizzle said. “I believe that the turnaround job I came to do is complete and now we need to find an executive who has experience to help us further grow as we enter a new world of professional sports.”
Tim Kelly, Chattanooga FC board chairman, said, “Sheldon has provided the right leadership to set us up for this move into the professional ranks and we could not have gotten to where we are without his passionate work. We know this was a difficult decision and we respect that he always has the club’s best interests in mind. As we look toward our first professional soccer season, we know the quality of the Chattanooga FC experience is important to our fans. We will provide the best experience with the best leadership for our fans and supporters.”
Grizzle was one of the cofounders of the club back in 2009. Since that time he has been a director on the board of the club. Just over a year ago, the club announced Grizzle as the president. The club quickly secured its first multi-year lease with Finley Stadium, brought on new local investors, announced its intent to play professional soccer, and launched the first public investor offering in U.S. soccer history.
Kelly said, “With the great momentum we’ve built over the last year, we are prepared to move into professional soccer in 2020. A national search will begin immediately to identify an executive with professional sports experience to build on the great foundation we have. We believe in an authentically homegrown club for Chattanooga and the new leader will continue to make that happen.”
In addition to assisting with the leadership transition, Grizzle will be leading Avant Soccer in partnership with the club to provide strategic guidance to existing and prospective community-minded ownership groups who want to build strong, local clubs in their cities. “In the end, it is about knowing and supporting your community and the Chattanooga FC model shows a path forward to new and existing clubs around the country,” he said.
Additional details will be forthcoming on the executive search with the goal to have leadership in place by the end of the year.
Friends of Chattanooga Football Club,
I am writing this letter to let you know that I’ll be stepping down from my role as President of Chattanooga Football Club at the end of this year.
This is a decision that did not come lightly. I love Chattanooga Football Club and have invested enormous amounts of time, effort, and resources into the club. Moving forward, I will remain heavily involved with the club as a director and will continue my leadership roles with Chattanooga FC Academy and Chattanooga FC Foundation. I’ll also be helping to launch a new venture in partnership with the club. More on that below.
Because of our recent positive momentum and success, my decision will likely come as a surprise to most of you, so I felt it important to provide a little context. In August 2018, the board asked me, as one of the founders and Vice Chairman, to take on the club’s leadership role. In order to take on the turnaround job for the club, I had to put a lot of personal plans on hold. My leadership at the club was always intended to be a short-term arrangement to help get us back on the right path.
I took the opportunity because I believed I was the right guy at the right time to set up the club for future success. And over the last twelve months, we have solidified our relationship with Finley Stadium, bolstered our local ownership group, completed the first supporter stock offering of its kind in the US, reinvigorated our youth academy, joined the National Independent Soccer Association (NISA), and more. We accomplished more in the last year than most clubs will ever accomplish!
It is hard to step out at this exciting juncture, but I firmly believe that we are now at the point where we need an executive who understands our industry and who knows how to grow a professional sports club. And we will, no doubt, have worldwide interest for this position.
In addition to assisting with the leadership transitions, I will be leading Avant Soccer in partnership with the club to provide strategic guidance to existing and prospective community-minded ownership groups who want to build strong, local clubs in their cities. As you know, we have learned so much about launching and growing a community-based club over the last 11 seasons. We’ve also had success sharing our model with other prospective ownership groups like Detroit City FC, Kingston Stockade, Asheville City SC, Oakland Roots, and many others.
Please be on the lookout for some cool stuff on the horizon with that! But for now, we have plenty of work to do to finish strong in the Members Cup, lay the groundwork for our first season in NISA as a fully professional club, and much more.
I’m honored to have been a steward of the club for the last year and I’m more excited than ever about the future of Chattanooga FC. Thank you to our supporters, supporter owners, sponsors, players, coaching staff, front office staff, and fellow board members for a year to remember.